Sustainable Management of Morocco's Marine Resources

Houssine Nibani
Published: 11 May 2016
Last edited: 28 March 2019
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Implementation of an ecosystem-based participatory planning program for the benefit of artisanal fishermen operating in the Mediterranean. Under this program, fishermen were able to identify the challenges posed by illegal trawling and dynamite fishing. The creation of a monitoring committee allowed them to take their part in fighting these threats. Their overall income increased thanks to the commercial management of fishery products in the newly created cooperatives.


North Africa
Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Fisheries and aquaculture
Protected and conserved areas governance
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Sustainable development goals
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas


Morocco | Alborán MPA (AMP-P), Mar Chica Lagoon, Al Hoceima National Park (PNAH)


  • Illegal trawling in shallow areas within MPAs causes destruction of habitat and breeding areas for demersal species. Demersal stocks are declining.
  • Dynamite fishing threatens the fish stock.
  • Poaching of osprey nests has caused a local population decline.
  • The lack of organization of artisanal fishermen does not favor a struggle against these multiple challenges.


Some 3,000 artisanal fishermen operating in Moroccan Mediterranean, including:

  • 700 in the Alborán MPA
  • 500 in waters adjacent to the National Park of Al Hoceima
  • 600 at the site of the Mar Chica lagoon.

How do the building blocks interact?

The first block concerns the marine ecosystem and target-species (such as the bald eagle). The direct threats on this biotope and the target-species are being studied through targeted research activities and involve all the stakeholders. These research activities are displayed in Block 4.


Block 2 addresses an indirect factor in the restoration of the biotope and the protection of endangered species through the establishment of no-take zones: the reinforcement of the artisanal fishermen’s involvement in the marine resources management plan of the National Park’s marine zone.


Another indirect conservation factor, addressed by Block 3, is the improvement of artisanal fishermen’s living standards by 30% in the MPA’s coastal zone. Additionally, participatory planning of a marketing strategy for the fishery product supports income-generating activities. This block enables the artisanal fishermen to organize themselves and form a conservation lobby.


Block 5 aims to capitalize on the experience of AGIR through a network of Mediterranean fisheries cooperatives aimed at creating more MPAs and contributing to the Aichi-Targets 6 and 11.


After the project: Responsible fisheries emerged within the marine protected area of the Al Hoceima National Park (PNAH) (ZMPNAH) thanks to:


  • The eradication of dynamite and copper sulfate fishing.
  • The notable reduction of osprey nest disturbances and the doubling of the number of young ospreys.
  • The eradication of illegal trawling inside the ZMPNAH. Our sensitization campaigns against juvenile fishing have contributed to the 2013/2014 adoption of a legislation obliging trawlers to carry localization devices; Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS).
  • The increase in marine resource abundance, estimated at 20 to 30 % among the species and the ecosystems. Local and national stakeholders were involved in the biotope and species restauration.
  • The poverty reduction of 30 % for approximately 1.200 artisanal fishermen
  • The project’s financial viability via participatory planning and the use of a sustainable commercialization strategy for the fishery products from the project zone


“In 1987, then Biology Professor, I moved to the coastal city of Al Hoceima, in northern Morocco, where I volunteered with the American Peace Corps. I began working on osprey conservation in what is now the Al Hoceima National Park. At that time, the Rio Conference has not taken place yet and very few people in Morocco knew what conservation was. Today, things have changed and I am not alone anymore!”


An experience to replicate


In 2005, I received the Hassan II Prize for the Environment – an important national consecration. But I am also aware of the need to involve more people in my work. Therefore in 2008, I created the Association for Integrated Resource Management (AGIR) that aims to conserve the Moroccan Mediterranean coast.


My goal was not to take up the role of the local community, the artisanal fishermen or the State, but rather to implement a program based on a strategy and methodology of knowledge exchange and savoir-faire. In the north of Morocco, hundreds of research and participatory planning workshops have been organized, creating a real community academy working in the interest of more than 3000 fishermen and fishermen’s wives.


Among the concrete results, obtained in the field, can be named: the implementation of some MPAs, which only existed on paper before, henceforth self-managed by fishermen and fishermen’s wives cooperatives; the refinement of MPA zoning; the creation of new MPAs ; and an increased accountability for marine activities.


Today, the Al Hoceima National Park, once plagued by illegal fishing and trawler encroachment, has entered into a new era. Ospreys flourish, dynamite fishing has ended, and fishermen make a better living. From now on there is nothing left to do except of sharing our experience with other partner institutions, not only relevant to the Fisheries Ministry of Morocco, but also other South Mediterranean countries who wish to get inspired by AGIR’s approach.


Recipe for success


The association knew how to win the artisanal fishermen and local communities’ trust on the one hand, but also of those working at an institutional level and the international donors on the other hand. This gain of trust enabled the association to generate change in a collective dynamic way. International recognition came in 2014, when AGIR won the United Nations Equator Prize for Marine and Coastal Resource Management. I was also announced “Hero of the Mediterranean” in 2014 by the MAVA Foundation.

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Houssine Nibani Association de Gestion Intégrée des Ressources (AGIR)

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Association de Gestion Intégrée des Ressources (AGIR)